As one of the most complicated civic projects out there, airports are not built every day. Beyond the tedious grappling with local, state, and federal regulations, not to mention considering the effect on local communities (noise pollution) and the environment (other pollution), there’s also the factor of cost. And boy, are airports expensive.
But as the United States deals with aging infrastructure, many public work projects need to be revitalized, and that’s pushing the development of airports to very impressive results. Case in point: Salt Lake City, Utah, has just opened the first phase of its new $4 billion airport terminal to much fanfare.
Like many American airports, Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), a major hub for Delta, was built more than half a century ago, and it simply wasn’t optimized for the 26 million passengers that pass through its terminals each year. So in 2014, ground broke on the new terminal, which will have 78 gates and more than 4 million square feet of interior space when Phase Two is completed in 2024. Perhaps most impressively, the entire project has been self-funded by the airport—no taxpayer dollars were used.
Beyond vastly improving the existing facilities from a practical standpoint, the new terminal also impresses with its architecture. Designed by firm HOK with the goal of receiving LEED Gold certification, the airport takes its cues from Utah’s famous slot canyons with undulating wall structures. It also employs floor-to-ceiling windows in certain areas to maximize views of the nearby Wasatch Mountains.
“Salt Lake is very much the crossroads of the West,” Bill Wyatt, Executive Director of Airports for Salt Lake City, said in a statement. “From the skin on the building to the art that has been selected to the massive terrazzo floors, there has been extraordinary attention paid to making sure that people knew they were in Salt Lake when they land here.”